I read the first Freakonomics book back in 2013. I listened to the whole audio file in three days. I devoured it and I loved it. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to look for another book until a few months back when it popped up on my radar. I don’t remember if it was Hoopla searching or Goodreads browsing, but it came up and I knew I had to read it. While waiting for my hold on World Without End to come back seemed as good a time as any.
Summary from Goodreads:
SuperFreakonomics challenges the way we think all over again, exploring the hidden side of everything with such questions as:
How is a street prostitute like a department-store Santa?
Why are doctors so bad at washing their hands?
How much good do car seats do?
What’s the best way to catch a terrorist?
Did TV cause a rise in crime?
What do hurricanes, heart attacks, and highway deaths have in common?
Are people hard-wired for altruism or selfishness?
Can eating kangaroo save the planet?
Which adds more value: a pimp or a Realtor?
Levitt and Dubner mix smart thinking and great storytelling like no one else, whether investigating a solution to global warming or explaining why the price of oral sex has fallen so drastically. By examining how people respond to incentives, they show the world for what it really is – good, bad, ugly, and, in the final analysis, super freaky.
I loved this book. I liked the first one so maybe I went in biased, but this was a great read. I was so enthused about it that I was able to interest my coworker and I might get him to sign up for a library card (yay)! Levitt and Dubner talk about how only one side is presented so I have to take their side with the same skepticism. Really enjoyable read. I liked how all the stories tie together at the end of the chapter. So good!
I thought the chapter about car seats was the most interesting. I work in an automotive field so I could understand a lot of the stories about independent testing labs and I thought the ultimate proposal to make backseat seatbelts fit for a younger passenger is a great solution. I brought it up to the same coworker and it made him think a lot, too.
There was one tidbit that struck close to home for me, which was about the rate of birth defects in women who fasted for Ramadan during the first month of their pregnancy. The rates were the same for a Muslim country in Africa (I think it was Southern Somalia) and Detroit. I had that one figured out before Dubner read the answer. Go me!
The discussion on global warming/cooling was my least favorite. There’s a lot of literature published about global warming and I thought the writers were very selective about what they choose to use in their stories. Of all the book, I felt this part was most biased toward the writers’ friends and their research.
The audiobook I listened to was narrated by co-author Stephen Dubner. I thought Dubner was a good choice to narrate the story and I’m glad he was chosen. I found this audiobook on Hoopla and it’s had a high number of instances where the authors narrated the audiobook. I’m liking this trend.
Levitt and Dubner always want you to think, “Huh, I never considered looking at it that way.” I love that. They want to create inquisitive minds and show that economics isn’t a bunch of boring old men making predictions about the price of oil. I bet there are a lot of fields that are more fun than we think. Maybe HR will be next (my coworkers and I are planning a You Can’t Make This Up book).
Writer’s Takeaway: One of my favorite parts of this book was how everything connected. The afterward even ended in a reference to a previous joke. All of their loose ends were tied up and I think fiction writers need to be sure to be as consistent. I liked sometimes not knowing where a side story was going but being able to trust it would all come around in the end.
I highly recommend this for those skeptical about reading nonfiction. It’s a great read. Five out of Five stars.
Until next time, write on.
Superfreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner | Kvams
Superfreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner | Sam Still Reading
SuperFreakonomics- Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner | The Story’s Story